The Contest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: All Star Story Writers

Chapter 13 (v.1) - CHARITY LUNCH

Submitted: October 13, 2016

Reads: 52

Comments: 2

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Submitted: October 13, 2016

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With College closed for the summer, and my exams behind me, my royal duties picked up pace, together with my list of chores at the palace. Due to a particularly busy morning, I did not have the time to spend fighting my frizz, so I quickly tied it back and got changed into a smart royal blue two piece with a straight skirt and short fitted jacket, (bought in the on-line sale at cheapfrocks4u).

“You look absolutely stunning,” Hugh gushed, bowing grandly and kissing the back of my hand. I must say I was well pleased by his compliment, particularly as I was changed and ready to leave in five minutes flat.

A taxi drew on to the courtyard to drive us to the Charity Lunch, hosted by the Cyber Society for Sick Children.

On arrival, we were escorted to one of the many circular tables, which we shared with other important guests, and Hugh proudly took his seat beside me. It was a very formal event, and when lunch was over the speeches began.

As Patron, I had been asked to give a speech outlining the activities and achievements of the Charity over the previous year. I had soon learned, that when giving speeches, it is always good practice to have some notes to follow. It certainly helps to jog the memory, keep on track, and boost confidence.

I was just about to stand up to deliver my speech, when Hugh grabbed the microphone from my hand. “Testing one-two, testing one-two” he bellowed into it, before handing it back.

“Seems to be in good working order,” he assured me.

I found his interruption embarrassing, but tried my best to ignore it, and stood up.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I began.”

Hugh then decided to take charge of my notes and, in much the same way as a pianist might have an assistant to turn over sheets of music, he stood beside me, ready to hand me my notes, one at a time.. My cheeks began to burn with embarrassment. I glared at him in disapproval, as I once again attempted to focus my mind.

I tried again. “Ladies and Gentlemen, it g-gives me great pleasure to inform you that I recently opened a new children’s park, sorry, I mean w-w-ward, at Tahoma Hospital, equipped with state of the art technology including two new spanners, I mean s-s-scanners!” …  Somehow I managed to stutter and stumble my way through the remainder of my speech but, despite my obvious mistakes, and following Hugh’s lead, everyone clapped respectfully, although I did notice a few suppressed smirks and sniggers. I finally sat down feeling extremely embarrassed, but relieved it was over.

“Why did you do that Hugh? You really embarrassed me and made me look a complete fool.”

“I was only trying my best to support you. It’s because I'm naturally organised and orderly, and thought you could use a bit of help, but I can see now that I was out of order. I’m so sorry Eemay, please forgive me.”

“It's OK Hugh, I know you didn't mean to put me off my stride, and I’m sorry for snapping, but I am organised in my own way, it's what I call organised chaos, and it works just fine for me.”

He took my hand and squeezed it tightly. “So we're friends again?” he asked, with that look in his eyes that instantly made me melt.

“Yes, of course we are.”

On the journey back to the palace we were in good spirits. Now that it was over I felt more relaxed and could even see the funny side of the situation. It’s was such a formal and stuffy occasion, and we were laughing and joking about how comical we must have looked, when, out of the blue, he suddenly changed the subject.

“Oh, by the way, I’ve been meaning to ask, do you know if the palace is haunted?”

“Well, Pop says it is, but I’ve never seen anything suspicious. Why do you ask?”

“Oh I’m just curious, it’s such a rambling old place. Has your father ever told you what or who haunts the palace?”

“Well, when I was young he used to terrify me with stories of ghostly sightings.”

“What sort of sightings?” he pressed.

“The story he is most fond of telling is The Corridor of Fear, which he’ll relate to anyone willing to listen. I'm quite sure if you ask him, he’ll jump at the opportunity to tell you all about it. He loves to fascinate people with his ghost stories.”

“But what about The Corridor of Fear, tell me about it?”

“To be perfectly honest, I was always so afraid of his stories that I used to stick my fingers in my ears and sing to myself so I couldn’t hear, so I don’t really know that much about it.”

“Tell me what you do know?”

“Well according to Pop, it was named the Corridor of Fear because of ghostly sightings that appear in the dead of night. It is said that those who witness it are so traumatised, they are never the same again. As I said, that’s all I can tell you, because I never listened properly. Anyway, I’m certain there’s no truth in it, it’s just his vivid imagination, he loves telling a good tale that scares the life out of people, and because he's inclined to exaggerate, it becomes more and more scary, every time he tells it.

I noticed he seemed quiet and thoughtful. “Why are you so interested?

“Just curious, that’s all.”

Stepping out of the taxi, Nettie bounded over to me, jumping up and wagging her tail furiously. I picked her up and planted a kiss on top of her domed head. “Hugh this is my little dog Nettie, isn’t she just adorable,” I said with pride, setting her back down on the ground.

He bent down to stroke her but she was distinctly uneasy, releasing a long low growl.

“Nettie, what on earth is the matter?  She has never been like this before.”

He tried again, this time crouching down and doing everything he could to encourage her, but she was having none of it, and bolted away.

“That is so strange, she’s normally so friendly.”

“Well you must never forget that she is an animal. Even the tamest of pets can sometimes be unpredictable.”

I suppose you do have a point.”

Hugh glanced at his watch. “Eemay, I’m really sorry but I have a business meeting and need to leave at once.”

“Oh, right, don’t let me keep you. Thanks for your support it’s been, well err, quite an entertaining afternoon, one that I won’t forget in a hurry.”

Later that evening, I reflected on the time spent with both Princes since their arrival. Scott was just so open and uncomplicated, with such a warm personality. I had absolutely no doubt that he would always be there for me, dependable and steady. But was he too good to be true?

Whereas Hugh was mysterious, unpredictable and impulsive, which I found exciting and completely bewitching. As always I was drawn to him like a magnet.

What have I let myself in for?


© Copyright 2020 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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